North Mids League, Derby

Nene Valley Harriers enjoyed a hugely satisfying start to the cross country season at Derby on Saturday, with a winning display in the opening fixture of the North Midlands League. A record 75 athletes turned out for the club, turning Mark Eaton Park red white and blue as the vests of the city club just kept coming and coming.

The girls provided the days biggest highlights winning both the under 13 and under 17 age groups. A highly impressive achievement given the calibre of many of the other participants. Flo Brill led the under 13’s home finishing as runner up in a hotly contested battle, while Lottie Hemmings in 8th and Sophie Reeves 16th completed the three girl scoring team. Megan Ellison ran a mature race as she came home third for the under 17’s, making light of the testing 4.6k circuit with a 17.59 clocking. Ellison received strong support from Josie Fortune in 12th and 14th placed Ellie Piccaver.

An exceptional turn out by the Nene Valley senior ladies saw 13 athletes on the start line. The Harriers finished 5th out of the 29 clubs in action, and with the strength in depth that they now possess confidence is high that they can improve on this placing as the season develops. Nicky Morgan was first Harrier home, finishing 32nd in 29.01, with a typically gutsy run over the 6.5k course. Morgan has been rewarded for her good form over the past couple of years with a call up call into the England veterans squad for a home counties cross country international in Glasgow next month. The rapidily improving Laura Grimer and Ruth Jones, who impressed on her return from career threatening injury, were the other scorers. Such was the clubs strength in depth that that their 2nd three finishers would have been good enough for 8th position as a team, and the 3rd trio home would also have been in the top half of the team stakes had more than one scoring team been permitted per club.

The Harriers under 11 girls claimed 6th position, with Nora Brill, Evie Blow and Evie Hemmings all impressing, while the under 15 girls were 8th thanks to Katie Tasker and Hana Ray who both secured top 20 finishes.

Nene Valley's under 13 boys were the pick of an impressive bunch in the male categories with the team finishing as runners up. Sam Oakley's 3rd place was a clear highlight, but with kai Chilvers 17th, Adam Blackbird 18th, Jacob Bush 19th and the 3rd Brill sibling Hugo in 21st there was no doubting the strength in depth of the squad.

Matt Church led the under 13 boys into 3rd place with a strong run, coming home 14th. Matt Dowling was just two positions further back with Ben McCann completing the scoring team wirh 25th place. Brad Allen in 7th, Keilin Spurdens 20th and Mapheso Mukatuma 22nd helped the under 17 boys into 4th place while the under 11’s were 5th. Jack Haunch, Kyle Warrener and Toby Bush made up the scorers.

Five runners scored per team in the seniors men's race, and Nene Valley were pleased to finish 6th out of 30 teams. The impressive Michael Channing was the first Harrier home in 32nd position, covering the three lap 10k course in 35:47. Nathan Tweedle was 50 seconds further back in 38th with, Bradley Spurdens hot on his heels. Ollie Slater took 69th place and Sam Hunt completed the scoring team two places further back.

Barry Warne